2010 April: Simple Ideas

Weights and measurements

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: if you aren’t weighing and measuring your ingredients, you’re doing your business a grave disservice. Most of the big chains measure down to the dough ball, and with good reason – allowing your employees free reign wastes product and encourages inconsistency. A return customer will notice if ingredients aren’t applied with a heavy hand this time. Take a day and record all your ingredients. Put it in writing and put it to work by training your employees to standardize production. You should see food costs level off quickly.

Vodka sauce

Vodka sauce isn’t just a blend of your red and white sauces; instead, the flavors of heavy cream, vodka, basil, tomato and garlic create a complex sauce that transcends the ordinary. Start with chopped sweet onion and garlic. Cook until translucent in extra-virgin olive oil, but do not brown. Add two large (28-ounce) cans of crushed tomatoes and 1½ cups of vodka. Simmer about 35 minutes and then add two cups of heavy cream and three tablespoons of chopped fresh basil. Add a small can of tomato paste. Simmer again about a half hour and serve with pasta. Consider topping the dish with pancetta or crispy chopped bacon.

Herb-infused oils

White pizzas, technically speaking, don’t just include a slather of Alfredo sauce. While olive oil is generally used, you don’t have to stop there. Why not create your own herb-infused olive oils for added kicks? The opportunities are endless: basil, garlic, hot peppers, sage, rosemary, etc. Gather the herbs you want to use and wash thoroughly. Blanch for about three minutes, then plunge into ice water to stop cooking. Pat dry and allow to dry overnight. If using larger herbs, chop coarsely. Place the herbs in a plastic container and fill with extra-virgin olive oil. You can use immediately, but the longer it is stored, the more flavor the oil will take on. Use within one month.

Summer staffing

Even though it is April, it’s time to think about summer staffing. With summer such a short season, you can’t waste valuable time on training during critical production time. Hiring in the spring allows high school students to train during shorter work weeks while school is still in session. By the time school lets out and they’re ready to take on more hours, they are already fully trained and ready to go!